VIJAYAWADA: The Socio-Economic Survey 2018-19 unveiled by the State government on Friday, indicated that a crisis is brewing in the agriculture-driven Andhra Pradesh.
Contrary to the tall claims made in the past, the growth rate of agriculture sub-sector (without allied sectors) nosedived by 9.83 per cent. While deficit rainfall was identified as one of the major reasons for it, the fall in cultivation area of food grains, and thereby agricultural production, also contributed to negative growth.
According to the survey, the area under food grains is estimated at 40.26 lakh hectares in 2018-19 as against 42.06 lakh hectares in 2017-18, showing a decrease of 4.27 per cent. This is particularly because of a decline in the area of cultivation of paddy and major millets. “The total production of food grains in 2018-19 is estimated at 151.12 lakh tonnes while it was 167.22 lakh tonnes the previous year, thereby showing a decrease of 9.63 per cent,” the survey explained.
This is a sharp decline considering that the Socio-Economic Survey 2017-18 said that the area under food grains increased by 2.57 per cent from 39.7 lakh to 40.7 lakh hectares. The food grain production also shot up by 5.65 per cent in 2017-18. In 2018-19, the cropping intensity too has marginally declined to 1.24 from 1.26 the previous year.
Similarly, the gross irrigated area decreased to 36.45 lakh hectares in 2018-19 from 37.3 lakh hectares the previous year. The net area irrigated in the State stands at 28.06 lakh hectares.
Even though agriculture sub-sector registered negative growth, agriculture broad sector, which includes allied sectors, managed 10.78 per cent growth, thanks to better performance of fisheries, horticulture and livestock.
For the record, Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy too, after releasing a white paper on State finances on Wednesday, pointed out that the agriculture sub-sector witnessed a negative growth contrary to the TDP’s claims that it registered a massive growth rate.
To help the farming community, the survey observed that the present government had taken ‘landmark’ decisions such as YSR Rythu Bharosa, YSR Crop Insurance, YSR interest-free loans and others.
Further, contradicting the Finance Minister’s remarks made during his budget speech on Friday that the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) has not grown as is claimed by the previous TDP regime and that the present government is still ascertaining if the figures posted by the earlier government were real or hypothetical, the Socio-Economic Survey put the GSDP growth at 11.02 percent.
The survey painted a positive picture with respect to job creation. It said 49,406 jobs were created in Information Technology and electronics sectors with a cumulative investment of Rs 1,427 crore. In the industrial sector, the survey said, “During 2018-19, 44 large and mega industrial projects were established with an investment of Rs 16,925.08 crore, providing employment to 14,130 people. Similarly, 10,068 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) were established, providing employment to 93,240 with an investment of Rs 3,443.57 crore.”
However, the rate of unemployment in Andhra Pradesh still remains a problem, even though it is lesser than the national average. The survey, which takes the periodic labour force survey (PLFS) 2017-18 as an indicator, said that in rural Andhra Pradesh the unemployment rate increased from 1.2 per cent to 3.6 per cent between 2011-12 and 2017-18. In the same period, the unemployment rate in urban areas increased from 4.3 per cent to 6.6 per cent. “The female unemployment is a bigger concern in urban areas as it is almost three times higher than in rural areas,” the survey cautioned.